WITH THE EU once again preparing to consider whether or not to re-authorise the herbicide glyphosate, the National Farmers Union Scotland has called on its members to make it clear to both politicians and the public that the chemical is one that they cannot do without.

The union wants to see glyphosate – which reaches the market labelled as 'RoundUp' – re-authorised for a full 15 years, with continuing approval for use pre-harvest. In 2016, glyphosate was re-authorised for just 18 months, after the EU decision-making process became mired in conflicting scientific advice and political differences between members states.

The matter has since been all but settled by a major report from the European Chemical Agency, which ruled that glyphosate was not a risk to human health. To highlight that fact – and hopefully avoid a repeat of 2016's political stalemate – NFUS this week launched the #GlyphosateIsVital campaign at McGregor Farms in Coldstream in the Scottish Borders.

Union president Andrew McCornick said: “Glyphosate has received a clean bill of health from the European Food Safety Authority, European Chemicals Agency, World Health Organisation, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. This scientific consensus means that if regulation of plant protection products in the EU is to have any credibility at all, glyphosate must now be re-authorised for a further 15 years – including for pre-harvest use.

“Whilst the union has written to all Scottish MEPs to encourage them to support the re-authorisation of glyphosate, it would be invaluable if these MEPs also heard directly from farmers who use glyphosate about what it means for them," said Mr McCornick. "That message could be delivered even more powerfully if farmers were able to get MEPs on farm to discuss the issue. I encourage all Scottish farmers who want to see glyphosate remain in their toolbox to contact their MEP as soon as possible."

The union will also be making its case on social media, using the hashtag #GlyphosateIsVital, and Mr McCornick encouraged farmers to do the same: “Let your MEPs and the European Commission know how important glyphosate is for you, and don’t assume someone else will be do doing it so you need not bother. As a farming community we need to speak up for glyphosate, so please do your bit.”

Colin McGregor, of McGregor Farms, added: “My business is founded on attention to detail and doing things right. Alongside doing my part for the environment and taking care of my soils, I need to be able to grow and harvest my crops in the best condition.

“Glyphosate is fundamentally important for me. It helps me maintain good yields and to use less fossil fuels to dry the crops and keep them in good condition. Glyphosate is a safe and invaluable tool for farmers and it is vital that it remains in our toolbox.”